10/25/2010

Denim Glossary: Right Hand Twill vs. Left Hand Twill vs. Broken Twill

We regularly receive questions about denim fabrics. What is the difference between right hand twill (RHT) and left hand twill (LHT)? What is broken twill? Which fabric is better and why? Today we will try to answer some of these questions using some examples from denim in our current stock.

Denim is made from tightly woven fabric that usually comes from cotton warp yarn and white cotton filling yarn. The filling yarns are stretched across the width of the fabric and interlaced at a 90 degree angle with warp yarns. This creates an interwoven pattern of diagonal lines called "twill weave". Right hand twill, also know as "z twill", was made famous as Levi's jeans standard fabric and now is the most common twill weave used for denim fabrics. Right hand twill can be recognized by the upward direction of the diagonal twill on the face of the fabric as it runs from lower left toward upper right. Right hand twill is known to have a flatter and smoother surface compared to other twill fabrics. The above photo is taken from a DENIME "New XX" raw selvedge straight leg denim in indigo. More information about the DENIME "New XX" using raw Japanese selvedge right hand twill fabric can be seen here.

Left hand twill, also known as "s twill", is a weave in which the grain line runs from the top-left hand corner of the fabric to the bottom right which is the opposite of right hand twill. It was originally used by Lee denim as its basic denim and now used in many premium denim companies such as 45rpm, Lee Japan, and Kicking Mule Workshop. Left hand twill tends to wear down softer than right hand twill and thus a softer hand feel after washing. Left hand twill will also have different wear patterns as the fabric can emphasize streakiness or vertical fading. The above photo is taken from a Kicking Mule Workshop "left hand twill" Rocker slim tapered selvedge denim in indigo. More information about the KMW Rocker using raw Japanese selvedge left hand twill fabric can be seen here.

Broken twill denim was first used by Wrangler in 1964 as a way to combat the twisting effect characteristic of regular twill denim (at the time considered a "fault" by many). Traditionally, twill is woven either to the right hand or the left hand as we described above which will eventually twist itself after washing due to the tension. This is why you see the outseam of some denim twisted to the front or back of the leg. Broken twill avoids this. Instead of the twill running left or right, broken twill contains no distinct direction and instead alternates right and left - the end effect resembles a random zig-zag pattern as shown above. The above photo is taken from a Naked & Famous "skinny guy" broken twill 13oz selvedge denim in indigo. More information about the Naked & Famous skinny guy using raw Japanese selvedge broken twill fabric can be seen here.